I place nearly all the blame on Banff.
|(Photo: World Tourism Place)|
Since I could ski, the basics, a little, the ski instructor evaluating my apparently killer moves on the bunny slope decided to promote me to the class above beginner. My weakly bleated protests--but I'm happy here!--were cheerfully ignored. You'll be fine! So off we non-beginners went, up the mountain, past the bunny slope beginners. And up, still higher, on the swaying chairlift. I looked down happily at the tops of the pine trees, the glinting snow, the tracks left by the wild animals. I tried to be in the moment. Then I tried to remember the poster that showed how to get off the lift. I asked the person sitting next to me. Her advice and my will proved lacking: I got off but it was by no means the standard exit, unless you call eating snow standard. Once standing/sliding on my skis again, I took one look downhill, and my stomach lurched ominously. Most of my internal organs went off to hide in my new, extra-thick socks.
The chairlift had dropped us off at a heinously precipitous point, where the well-worn, very narrow trail hugs the mountain until it finally widens out again--and swoops downward. I only made it through that narrow part by staring very, very hard to my left at the rising mountain, and practicing some hard-core denial. I can testify fear of heights can appear quite suddenly at any age.
The group ski instructor had gone ahead, impossibly far down, and we were to join him. No one was ready for it. Everyone was so polite. After you. No, please, after you! Finally there were three. And then there was just me.
I simply could not move forward. The instructor waved at me. I waved back, limply. It was too far to yell, so finally he left to follow the rest of the class, and I was on my own. I hoisted my legs up to get those mile-long skis pointed in the right direction (the chairlift! home! my bed!). However, the right direction included passing that steep drop-off. My entire body locked up with the first glance. Preternaturally vivid images of me defying the laws of nature, flying out into the air, and returning in a half-circle to hit the mountain-splat! ran in a continuous mental loop. I finally got moving by taking off the skis, so that I wasn't sliding anymore, and was thus more firmly attached to the ground. I crept back, whispered to the raised eyebrows of the lift operator that I needed to get down the hill, on his machine, without wearing skis. He had to stop the chairs for me, and then I got to have my ride of shame, with all the good folks going up the hill on the chairlift rubbernecking at the sunglasses-wearing fool going down the hill on the chairlift. Holding her skis.
When I finally got down to where I was to meet the others, my legs shook. For an hour. But I had time to recover, and when they finally swooshed toward me in a blaze of flying snow and adrenaline and breathlessly said, How'd it go? I chirped, Fine! Good! Once in the privacy of our room, I melted into a quivering, snotty-nosed mess. Buzz-kill, even if we did have a corner fireplace, little carved moose on the mantel and radiant heating under the slate floors.
|(Photo: Discover Holidays CA)|
I hear the skiing's wonderful.
It hasn't gotten any better for me since then, though not for lack of trying. [Insert various images of me struggling downhill here]. This is why I'm on my own and packing. My fearless children and husband are off skiing, and I get to have some me time.
Okay, add a few years on the girl (not that many!), subtract the hotel (I'm apartment-sitting), eliminate the petit café avec le beau gosse (husband might not be impressed), and change the city.
I'm taking the train to Lyon.